Bertha Bollette Boyd

Character #V
Bertha Bollette Boyd: Among Mountains and Monasteries

Exhibition opens: 31 August 2017, 6pm
Exhibition continues: 1 September – 8 October 2017

Important note regarding the exhibition Bertha Bollette Boyd: Among Mountains and Monasteries

Due to issues with the transportation of the work for Bertha Bollette Boyd into the UK, the exhibition currently on show in Timespan’s Gallery presents the photographs from the series as a projected slideshow with the objects, text and sound elements of the exhibition installed as planned.

We hope that this temporary presentation offers you the opportunity of a first introduction to Bertha, and that those of you who are able to do so will return to discover more about her and her travels when the full exhibition arrives in Helmsdale. It is also an opportunity to see the full series of images of Bertha, from which a selection will be shown in printed form. 


Bertha Bollette Boyd: Among Mountains and Monasteries, is the first episode of Norwegian artist Tonje Bøe Birkeland’s Character #V which brings to life the character of mountaineer and author Bertha and her journey through Bhutan.

Constructed through photography, text, and objects, Birkeland’s female figures balance on the border between fiction and reality. In this episode, the landscapes of Bhutan form a stage-set for the performative act of making these images; character, creator and camera coming together to tell a story that merges past and present.

The subject of this exhibition, Bertha Bollette Boyd, is the fifth character in Birkeland’s The Characters project, which began in 2008. The project positions women within landscape while exploring the authenticity of history. Staging female explorers in expeditions to Unknown Territory, The Characters divulges stories in the forms of photographs, journals and found objects. Each of The Characters makes its own meta-journey: the journey as artist and creator in travels to Greenland, Mongolia, Bhutan and Norway. The project aims to create a gallery of personas of female heroines from the past, who through narrative, fantasy and photography can fill a void in our history whilst reflecting on some of contemporary society’s challenges: globalized colonization on the one hand and the loss of “great adventure” on the other.

At Timespan, where the arts and heritage sit in close proximity, the exhibition offers a way to think through the complexities of authoring histories and biographies and the tension between fact and fiction that is always present within this process.

The exhibition is programmed in parallel to Flow Photo Fest, an international photography festival taking place across the northern Highlands and Islands.

Tonje Bøe Birkeland received her Master’s degree in Fine Art at Bergen Academy of Art and Design in 2012. Through her long-term project The Characters, Birkeland has been awarded the Victor Fellowship by Hasselblad Foundation (2012), Årets Vakreste Bøker (2017) and presented in her own artist book The Characters (2016), Norwegian Journal of Photography, Fritt Ord, Oslo (2017) and now in Girl on Girl – Art & Photography in the Age of the Female Gaze, by Charlotte Jansen, Laurence King Publishing, London, 2017.

Selected exhibitions include: For a gentle song would not shake us if we had never heard a loud one, Fotogalleriet, Oslo (2016), #ME, Preus Museum, Horten (2016),  Inner & Outer Landscapes, Centrum för Fotografi, Stockholm (2015) / Bergen Kjøtt, Bergen (2015) / Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen (2014), Character # IV Anna Aurora Astrup (1871-1968), Fotogalleriet Format, Malmö (2015) / Copenhagen Photo Festival, Copenhagen (2015), Character # III: Luelle Magdalon Lumière, NOoSPHERE, New York (2014), Typer og Arketyper (Types and Archetypes), Galleri F15, Moss (2013), New Nordic Photography, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg (2012) and Open Studios, ISCP, in Brooklyn, NY (2012).

Image credit: Plate #1, Tiger Nest 3120 masl (2016), Tonje Bøe Birkeland. Courtesy of the artist.